AFM-based measurement of the mechanical properties of thin polymer films and determination of the optical path length of nearly index-matched cavities



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Two technologies, immersion and imprint lithography, represent important stepping stones for the development of the next generation of lithography tools. However, although the two approaches offer important advantages, both pose many significant technological challenges that must be overcome before they can be successfully implemented. For imprint lithography, special care must be taken when choosing an etch barrier because studies have indicated that some physical material properties may be size dependent. Additionally, regarding immersion lithography, proper image focus requires that the optical path length between the lens and substrate be maintained during the entire writing process. The work described in this document was undertaken to address the two challenges described above. A new mathematical model was developed and used in conjunction with AFM nano-indentation techniques to measure the elastic modulus of adhesive, thin polymer films as a function of the film thickness. It was found that the elastic modulus of the polymer tested did not change appreciably from the value determined using bulk measurement techniques in the thickness range probed. Additionally, a method for monitoring and controlling the optical path length within the gap of a nearly index-matching cavity based on coherent broadband interference was developed. In this method, the spectrum reflected for a cavity illuminated with a modelocked Ti:Sapphire laser was collected and analyzed using Fourier techniques. It was found that this method could determine the optical path length of the cavity, quickly and accurately enough to control a servo-based feedback system to correct deviations in the optical path length in real time when coupled with special computation techniques that minimized unnecessary operations.